Battle of Clontarf

Brian Ború and Kellys and The Battle of Clontarf 1014

The painting Battle of Clontarf was painted in 1826 by Irish landscape painter Hugh Frazer
The painting Battle of Clontarf was painted in 1826 by Irish landscape painter Hugh Frazer

The Battle of Clontarf took place in April 1014 on the banks of the river Tolka in Dublin between forces assembled by Brian Boru, who was the nominal High King of Ireland, and Mael Morda, King of Leinster, the Dublin Viking king Sitric and their allies. Deenihan points out that the actual battlefield site is “closer to Glasnevin than to modern-day Clontarf”.

1. Teige Mór O’Kelly, led the Connacht men in the Battle of Clontarf. The kings of H.M. were the hereditary Marshals of the Connacht army. There were four divisions in the army of Brian Ború. Tadhg Mór was in charge of the 2nd Division (The Connacians). This division was composed of the O’Conors, O’Kellys, O’Heynes, McDermots, O’Flahertys, O’Reillys, O’Farrells, O’Rourkes, O’Dowds and O’Malleys. Tadhg Mór and his eldest son Murchadh were killed in the battle. A strange green animal is said to have come out of the sea and protected Teige’s body until it was retrieved by his kinsmen. This green Enfield has since then being on the O’Kelly of Hy-Many coat of arms. In this battle fighting on the side of the Danes forming the 3rd Division (the Lagenians -the Irish of north Leinster, under the command of Maormorda O Faley, their King, were O’Connors of Faley, O’Byrnes, O’Tooles, O’Kellys of Cuallain (Wicklow Kellys), O’Gormans, O’Ryans, O’Moras, O’Dempseys, and O’Dunnes. Eugene O’Curry tells us it was not a Dane who killed Tadhg O’Kelly. He was involved in close combat with Broderban O’Conor, king of Offaly. They fell by each other.

The “Book of the Danish Wars,” tell us.

The confederate of the Danes having been routed, some of the fugitives were driven into the sea; whilst others of the Danes of Dublin who were in the engagement only nine escaped from it , and “the household of Teige O’Kelly followed these and slew them at the head of the bridge of Áth Cliath (Dublin), that is Dubhghall’s bridge”.

Mac Liag’s account of the Battle of Clontarf:

Reluctantly unreluctantly we came to Dublin

To the Dun of Amluff of the golden shields

From Dublin of the swords and graves

Fast and slow is my going out

You citizens of Dublin of the Bells

Including Abbot and Bishop

Close not the earth on Teige here

Until we have done looking at him

You sons of Harrold who redden lances

You remnant of the champion of Loughlin

It was not a Dane who killed O’Maine

Nor was it a base or ignoble land

If he were alive after the slaughter

The ardent youth of Dim Imdain

No Gael would dare to wound him

To look at him would be dangerous to you

Alas that one man was found to desire

The death of Teige after his victory

When he was destroying the Danes and the Gaels

But we are tired of our compromising

Sad to have gone with Leith Mogha

Into the battles wounding heat

Against the persuasion of Eastern Malachy

Sad to have gone to gain trophies

Malachy of the spears had offered

To the good son of his own sister

Advantages such as he had from Brian

Without a return of feasting fighting and valour

The richest gifts of Erin from shore to shore

Were offered by the blue eyed Malachy

To the great active honourable chief

And to be king of hosts of Oriel

Teige from round topped Croghan said

Unto the beloved Malachy

Not even for thy noble and beautiful self

Shall I ever abandon my chief?

Brian is not better than me my son

To distribute both gold and silver

Nor is the son of the brave Rock

Better Morogh of the great prowess

More dear to me is the household of Tal

Than all the Gaels together besides

I shall not infringe the battle demands

I shall not be guilty of an unkindly act.

Yet though proudly you thus declare

O brave and valiant Teige O’Kelly

I will Oman, survive thee in safety.

Regardless of thy friendship, thou Gael

On that account did worthy Teige receive

The Blessing of Brian Ború

Happy he who received his blessing

A gift which provides richest fruits

I shall not be alive after them

About Erin now great is my carelessness.

Adieu from me to Leith Cuinn my beloved

And to Cashel and Kincora

Adieu from me to the streamy Suck

And to the noble Shannon of many waters

Adieu from me to the plain of Moenmoy

And to Rath Croghan of Connacht

Adieu to Hisis’ slope over Moy Main

And to Dun na Ree of great wealth

Adieu to Clan Kelly of brave hosts

To the ever ready defenders of Erin

Adieu to the science I myself loved

Since Teige no longer lives in his glory

Adieu from me to all precious gifts

Adieu to flocks adieu to herds

Teige gave into me the day of Loch Riagh

An 100 cows, an 100 swords, an 100 shields

An 100 oxen for the time of ploughing

And an hundred led horses.

He gave me the night of Glen Gerg

An hundred cloaks an 100 Red Coats

Thirty spears with blood red points

Ten rings and ten chesses.

He gave me the night of Buaile Guill

Three hundred drinking horns

Three hundred cups full of ale

His hound his steed and his gold Cornet

He gave me at Kincora

It was magnifying the youthful poet

A hog out of every herd and the visitation of my retinue

From Kincora to beautiful Grein

There were at sweet Dun Cathraighe

The nobles of Erin in one house assembled

Under Brian under brave Hugh O’Neill

And under Malachy of Galbrams field

The charioteer of the renowned Brian met

The charioteer of Teige O’Kelly

While burnishing the smooth shields

Of their respective chiefs and Lords

To Brian is due the candle first

Said the Charioteer of Brian Ború

He has taken the hostages of Conn’s race

To him is due the first horn of drink

To Teige is due said Teige’s charioteer

The lead in the battle of clashing swords.

It was he that clove the shields of Bregia’s men

It was he that gained the victory at Tailtean

It was Brian that permitted him that

Said the other charioteer

To him he is hereditary bound

And to the goodly seed of Kennedy’s son

Teige’s charioteer raised the arm

When the contention grew warm

And struck him on the jaw which he cleft

Till his breast became red of his own blood

The servants all did raise a shout.

[MacLiag was the foremost Irish Poet of the time]

2. Malachy resumes the High Kingship after the death of Brian Ború.

3. Gadhra Mór, succeeded Teige Mór O’Kelly, as C.H.M., after the battle of Clontarf. He was father of Madudan, ancestor of the O’Maddens, who was slain in 1008. This was one of the few times when one of the ancestors of the O’Kellys was not chosen as C.H.M

Joe Kelly Oranmore